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Story by: Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Teleplay by: Hans Tobeason and Mike Sussman & Phyllis Strong
Directed by: Roxann Dawson
While in orbit around a planet that Archer and crew plan to take shore leave on, Enterprise is hailed by a Tellarite who offers to play tour guide to Archer and his crew. When he boards the ship he knocks out Trip and Archer and kidnaps the captain. The Tellarite is really a bounty hunter. He plans to turn in Archer to the Klingons as the captain has a price on his head for having escaped the Rura Penthe prison. Meanwhile, T'Pol and Phlox have been infected by a germ they contracted on the surface and need to spend time in the decontamination chamber. The bug has a strange effect on T'Pol. It sets off a strong mating urge within her or as the Vulcans' call it, the Pon Farr. She must mate or die. Phlox must fend off her advances while working on a "cure" while Trip must try to find the Tellarite and rescue Archer before he is turned over to the Klingons.
I'm reviewing this episode first because there's not really that much to think deeply about although I do have strong opinions about it. This is your standard sexy babe, funky alien and groovy captain old-fashioned type of sci-fi episode that any teenage boy and I suspect not so teenage men and gay ladies will like. There's nothing complicated here; nothing to be taken seriously although watching poor Phlox try to maintain his dignity let alone T'Pol lose hers does irk me in some ways. Still I like the fact that female Vulcans have Pon Farr as well as the men. It makes for a more equal depiction of Vulcan sexuality and I'm really glad to see this.
Watching T'Pol on all fours however like a "bitch" (as in dog) in heat is the most blatant, gratuitous sex that we've seen so far on Enterprise or any Trek show and I thought that featuring the Borg last week was a cheap ratings ploy. The closest thing I can think of in terms of exploitative sex is the scene with DS9's the Intendant as she takes a bath while taunting the mirror Sisko and Kira in "Crossover". It's a very sexy scene and one which I don't think is gratuitous however as it establishes the Intendant as a ruthless, powerful and indeed very sexy man-eater. The sexiness serves the character well. In this episode, however, T'Pol is nothing more than a sex object. She scares the men away which is funny I suppose to some but to me it doesn't really play well because she is so helpless. The whole B-Plot is akin to a badly-scripted soft porn film without the actual porn.
A part of me is glad that Enterprise is not as prudish as Voyager was. While Voyager was aimed at kids in its latter seasons what with its prim and proper attitudes towards sexuality albeit with an oversexed-looking Seven, Enterprise goes up one level to appeal to the teenagers. DS9 on the other hand was an adult-oriented show where the sexiness was part of the character's persona. Leeta was sexily dressed for the most part but then she was a Dabo girl. The Intendant with her black leather catsuit was the personification of the dominatrix. Here as in Voyager, T'Pol's and Seven's catsuits give the characters a more artificial Barbie